What’s a sure-fire way to offend your hosts on a State visit? Invite a terrorist to dinner.
There’s been a lot of talk this week about Justin Trudeau’s many wardrobe changes on his trip to India; his full slate of fun tourist stops, his celebrity chef and the complete lack of any substantive government meetings. Once again, Mr. Trudeau appears to be all style and no substance. However, there’s more to this trip than the usual pandering, platitudes and Trudeau’s clumsy verbal gymnastics. There’s a darker side; a purpose that is both self-serving and dangerous. And it’s the reason that the Prime Minister’s reception by Indian officials can be described as chilly at best.
It should come as no surprise that as the Trudeau’s, resplendent in Bollywood garb, alighted from their plane, the Prime Minister of India was not there to greet them. In April of 2017 Justin Trudeau attended a Khalsa Day parade in Toronto where he supported Sikh separatists in their desire for an independent Sikh state (Khalistan) in northern India. The parade featured shrines and posters of Sikh militants and terrorists—including those behind the 1985 Air India bombing— and Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, gave a speech standing in front of their flag. (Needless to say, our allies in India noticed.)
Justin Trudeau is no stranger to when it comes to “showing the love” to terrorists. He has shown his proclivity for the “rights” of terrorists over their victims again and again; from paying and apologizing to convicted terrorist Omar Khadr to spending tens of millions on the reintegration of ISIS fighters. Now on his India trip he has a convicted terrorist as a member of his entourage.
That is no joke and no exaggeration. In 1987 Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian national of Indian heritage, was sentenced to 20 years by a Canadian court for his part in the attempted murder of a visiting Indian state minister. Atwal was one of four men who ambushed and shot Malkiat Singh Sidhu, a then-member of Punjab’s cabinet, who was visiting Canada for a relative’s wedding. In his sentencing, the judge called the crime “an act of terrorism in order to advance a cause.” Atwal was at the time a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, a banned terrorist group in the US, Canada, the UK, and India. He was also charged with attempted murder in the near fatal beating of former B.C. premier (and Liberal Cabinet member) Ujjal Dosanjh in 1985. Mr. Dosanjh put it well in his conversation with CBC last week when he asked Justin Trudeau: “Do you have no shame?”
Despite Atwal receiving an invitation to a state dinner in New Delhi, and a reception in Mumbai (where he was photographed with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau), and the fact that he has been seen travelling with the Canadian delegation, the Prime Minister claims that his invitation was a mistake by Liberal MP Randeep Sarai of Surrey Centre B.C.
A mistake? A public relations nightmare to be sure, and a diplomatic blunder of epic proportions, but a mistake, I’m not so sure.
It’s not like Mr. Trudeau and his people didn’t know who this guy was. He has attended Liberal Party functions for years and has been photographed with numerous former Liberal leaders and Cabinet members including Justin Trudeau on more than one occasion.
A more likely explanation is that Mr. Trudeau is cozying up to the vote-rich Sikh community in key ridings in Toronto and Vancouver (like Surrey Centre) that helped the Liberals get elected in 2015. All four of Mr. Trudeau’s Indian-origin ministers are Sikh, and he has publicly boasted how he has more Sikh ministers than Indian Prime Minister Modi—yet another reason for his snub by Indian government officials. These Liberals will need to win again in these Sikh dominate ridings in 2019, thus Atwal’s invitation. As media outlets around the world are asking: How else—short of gross incompetence by everybody else involved in planning, vetting and security for the trip—does a convicted murderer and terrorist get that close to the PM and his family?
This trip is not about improving relations with an ally and a huge potential trading partner. It’s all about politics; optics, pandering, symbolism, vacations and, as usual, all about Trudeau.